Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Learn how to make chocolate buttercream frosting with this easy recipe and tutorial. This is my favorite recipe for chocolate frosting, it’s easy to make with just a few simple ingredients, and pipes perfectly too. Perfect for cakes, cupcakes, and so much more!
Do you have a favorite frosting? If I had to choose one, I would have to go with chocolate buttercream frosting.
I’ve already written an entire post on how to make buttercream frosting, but I felt that this recipe deserved its own post. I mean, it’s chocolate frosting. What’s not to love? Plus this recipe is easy to make and beats anything you can buy at the store.
I decided to put together a post showing you step-by-step how to make this frosting, different ways to use it, and how to prep it ahead of time too. I’ll also be sharing two more recipes next week showing you how to use this chocolate frosting. And yes, they involve even more chocolate.
Ingredients For This Recipe
Homemade chocolate frosting requires just a few ingredients, so it’s important that you use all the right ones. Here’s what we’ll be using to make this fluffy chocolate frosting:
- Unsalted butter: I suggest using unsalted butter since the amount of salt can vary between different brands of salted butter. By using unsalted butter, you control the amount of salt in your recipe.
- Powdered sugar: Sweetens the frosting, but also helps to thicken it and make it easier to pipe.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder: Gives this easy chocolate buttercream frosting a rich, chocolatey flavor.
- Heavy cream: I prefer using heavy cream rather than milk to make an ultra thick, creamy frosting.
- Vanilla extract: Use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.
- Salt: You need some salt in this homemade chocolate frosting to balance out the sweetness from the sugar.
How to Make Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
First, let’s discuss how to make this easy chocolate frosting.
- You’ll start with two sticks of unsalted butter that have been softened to room temperature.
- Next, beat the butter for 1-2 minutes just until it’s nice and smooth.
- Then, mix in the powdered sugar. You can sift your powdered sugar if you prefer, but to be honest I always skip this step. It’s also best to mix the powdered sugar in 1 cup at a time so that it’s thoroughly mixed with the butter. Be sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as well once you finished mixing the last cup of powdered sugar in with the butter.
- Once the powdered sugar is mixed with the butter, sift in your cocoa powder. I know I said you can skip sifting the powdered sugar, but I never skip sifting the cocoa powder because no one likes a huge lump of unsweetened cocoa powder in their frosting. Yikes!
- Mix in the cocoa powder until it’s well combined, the mixture will be pretty thick at this point.
- Finally, mix in some heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, and a tiny pinch of salt. I suggest starting with 3 tablespoons of heavy cream and then add another tablespoon if you think you need it.
That’s it! I told you this frosting was easy to make.
What Are Some Different Ways To Use This Frosting?
There are about a million different ways that you can use this frosting, but here are a few of my favorite ways:
- Chocolate Cupcakes
- Layered Chocolate Cake
- Cookie Cakes
- Sandwiched between cookies
- On top of fudgy brownies
- Cookie Cups
- Vanilla Cupcakes
I also have a tutorial on how to pipe a tall swirl (like the picture above) or a simple rose design.
Can I Make This Frosting Ahead of Time?
I get a lot of questions about whether or not you can freeze frosting or prep it ahead of time. The answer is yes! Here’s how I prep my frosting ahead of time:
Once the frosting is ready, cover it tightly or store in an airtight container and transfer to the refrigerator. When you’re ready to use it, remove it from the refrigerator, bring to room temperature, and mix well before frosting cupcakes/cakes.
Can I Freeze Frosting?
This chocolate frosting will freeze well for 2 to 3 months in a freezer bag or container. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring it to room temperature and mix well before frosting cupcakes/cakes.
- Make sure that your butter is at room temperature before getting started. This will ensure a much creamier frosting!
- It’s best to sift your cocoa powder first, then mix it into the frosting to avoid any lumps.
- I suggest using heavy whipping cream for a creamier frosting, but you can use milk. Just keep in mind that the frosting won’t be quite as creamy with milk.
- This recipe makes about 3 cups of frosting which is enough to generously frost 14-16 cupcakes or lightly frost a two-layer cake. If you prefer more frosting on your cake, I suggesting multiplying this recipe by 1.5. If you’re making a three-layer chocolate cake, you can use 1.5x this recipe for a lighter frosting or double this recipe for a thicker layer of frosting.
More Homemade Frosting Recipes to Try!
- Classic Buttercream Frosting
- Classic Cream Cheese Frosting
- Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
- Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Peanut Butter Frosting
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup (230 grams) unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
- 3 cups (360 grams) powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup (42 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder , sifted
- 3-4 tablespoons (45-60 ml) heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- tiny pinch of salt (adjust to taste)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed for 1-2 minutes or until smooth.
- Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, making sure to mix well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the cocoa powder and mix until fully combined.
- Add the heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, and salt and mix on medium speed until fully combined, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
This looks yummy and is easy to make. Thank you for the step by step directions 🙂 I grew up in the days of making buttercream frosting from the recipe on the side of the powdered sugar box, and licking the beaters. Fond memories 🙂 I will definitely make this recipe!
Thank you, Mary! So glad you found the steps helpful too! And I definitely remember licking the beaters growing up too, one of the best parts of baking if you ask me 🙂
Thanks for the information on freezing frosting; I’ll be trying it for the first time.
I make cupcakes and cakes for an outdoor venue, in a roofed pavilion that’s otherwise open-air. This happens from roughly June 1 through Nov. 1. Buttercream is my frosting of preference but as you might imagine, it doesn’t hold up well in the hotter months and I don’t have enough portable coolers to keep all of them in. Is there a better icing to use for this, or can you suggest an additive to add longevity to the frosting?
Glad you found it helpful, Helen! I’m not sure if there’s a better icing to use for warmer weather, but shortening does have a higher melting point than butter and is a little more ideal for warmer conditions. You could use half butter and half shortening in this recipe and that may help. I really like Crisco shortening, I find the flavor to be pretty neutral and they have a butter flavored version too.
Is the heavy whipping cream cold when added or is to be at room temp? Thanks!!
It’s technically best for it to be at room temperature. I’ve heard that adding cold heavy whipping cream to buttercream can cause it to break, but honestly, I don’t always set mine out ahead of time and I’ve never had that happen.
Hi thank you for sharing this step by step procedure. This is so easy to make especially like me a beginner. 🙂 thanks and God bless!! Will definitely try this one. 🙂
So glad you found the post helpful, Angelica! Hope you enjoy the frosting 🙂
These look absolutely divine. Beautiful presentation with perfect pictures. The step by step pictures are very helpful!
You’re so kind, Debanita! Thank you!
Thank you for this yummy chocolate frosting recipe. I look forward to making it soon.
Have a good day, Danielle!
Thank you, Rosetta! Hope you enjoy the frosting if you give it a try 🙂
Just made this frosting for my son’s birthday cake. It is creamy and delicious. Thank you for the recipe!
So glad you liked the frosting, Kim!
This is an excellent American buttercream frosting. I’ve tried many recipes over the years and prefer this one because the texture is thick and smooth, and it’s not as sweet as some. I used the weight measures, sifted the cocoa into the flour. then added the blended mix to the butter in 1 cup increments. The frosting was the consistency I wanted with 2 tbsp of cream. I was freezing the frosting so doubled the vanilla. I find that freezing can mellow aromatics and extracts.
Thank you, Sadie! Glad you liked the buttercream!
This was really good! I couldn’t stop eating it out of the bowl lol
Thank you, Alicia! Glad you liked the frosting 🙂
This is an amazing frosting, thank you for sharing! Tried them yesterday and its a super hit at my place. The recipe sure goes into my personal folder so I can repeat them often.
So glad you liked the frosting, Hannah!
Does this frosting need to be refrigerated after it’s been frosted on my cupcakes?
It will be fine to leave them at room temperature for a couple days. If I make cupcakes ahead of time, I do prefer to refrigerate them and just sit them out a couple hours ahead of time to come to room temperature.
What tip did you use for the cupcakes?
I used the Wilton 1M piping tip.
Can buttermilk be used instead of heavy cream?
That would be fine, but it will slightly change the flavor. You can use just regular milk too.
How many cupcakes will this recipe frost like the high swirl in the picture?
About 14-16 cupcakes.
I will be using this frosting to decorate my grandsons first birthday cake tomorrow and am so excited! I was looking for a frosting that would be creamy and of course… chocolate!!!
Thank you for sharing and providing such wonderful instructions.
So glad you found the post helpful, Laurie! Hope everyone enjoys the frosting!
I’m planning to use this recipe to decorate my son’s bear birthday cake tomorrow. However the bear needs two shades of brown. How can I accomplish this? Can I just add more cocoa to the frosting that needs to be darker? And then will I need to add more heavy cream so it’s not too thick to pipe? Thanks in advance!
I guess it depends on how dark the brown needs to be. You could make a batch with less cocoa powder and then the original recipe. If you’re needing it darker I would add a little more cocoa powder and heavy cream. You may need a bit more powdered sugar too depending on how much more cocoa powder you add. You could also use some brown gel food coloring to enhance the color.
OK, I’ll play around with it, thanks! Looking forward to trying this recipe. ?
It says 1 cup butter equal to 230g and 1/2 cup cocoa equivalent to 45g. How?
Not quite sure what you mean? Different ingredients will weigh different amounts. For example, 1 cup of rocks will weigh more than 1 cup of feathers.
SO GOOD! I made this today for the first time. Just added a little more cocoa and an extra 1/8 tsp of salt and it amped up the chocolate flavor. Perfect consistency – thanks so much! It’s a keeper.
I was wondering if I can add melted semi-sweey chocolate to the icing?
You probably could, but I haven’t tried it. If you did you would likely need to reduce the sugar and maybe the heavy whipping cream too.
Hey so the cupcake frosting came out too sweet what can I do to reduce the sugar ?
You can reduce the sugar, but you may want to reduce the heavy whipping cream slightly if you do.
Can I use milk instead of heavy cream? abd how much milk? will it be tasty?
That would be fine, I would just use a little less. It will still taste good, it just won’t be quite as creamy.
Oh my! This was amazing! I did a double layer Chocolate cake topper with strawberries and everyone was raving about it! Thank you!
I loved this frosting! It was especially awesome when it was on the cake when the cake was refrigerated. My 12 yr old son kept saying that when the frosting was cold from the fridge it tasted like ice cream. It was very good. Thank you.
Oh. My. Goodness! I want to thank you so much for sharing this scrumptious recipe with the world! I never baked a cake or made frosting before so I was really nervous how both would turn out. In the past 3 weeks I have made 3 cakes and a batch of cupcakes using your frosting recipe and everyone just loves it! It is the perfect amount of sweet and is 100% worth the extra effort to make your own from scratch because nothing store-bought can touch this amazing recipe. I’m hooked, thank you!
Thank you, Manuela! So glad you loved the frosting!
I love this chocolate buttercream recipe. It’s so yummy! The only problem is the frosting comes out a little grainy. Like you can feel the sugar in it. How do I fix this?
You could try sifting the powdered sugar and see if that helps. You could also try superfine powdered sugar.
I just made this & It’s super creamy and delicious, it is rather light in color tho more like a dark tan color. Do you have any tips for darkening the frosting? I don’t have any brown food coloring in my grocery store…
You could try a darker cocoa powder, I know Hershey’s has one.
I’m going to try this recipe for my daughter’s birthday cake next week. One question: how many layers would this recipe frost? I’m planning on making a homemade 2 8-inch layer chocolate cake with this frosting. I saw that this recipe makes about 3 cups. Would that be enough?
It will make enough to lightly frost a cake that size. If you want more frosting to decorate with, then I recommend multiplying the recipe by 1.5.
I had to write and let you know how much I appreciated this recipe along with the one for chocolate ganache and the BEST chocolate cake I have ever made. Yesterday was my son’s 21st birthday celebration and he wanted chocolate cake with chocolate icing. I used your fantastic cake recipe and made the chocolate ganache frosting as the filling between layers but iced the cake with this chocolate buttercream frosting. Inspired by a line from a TV show that mentioned a “white buttercream with just a hint of Grande Marnier” I decided to add a hint of Chambord (raspberry liqueur) to this frosting. I subbed 2 Tablespoons of the Chambord for 2 of the four tablespoons of cream and it was AMAZING! The hint of raspberry made an already fantastic frosting even more scrumptious. I decorated the cake with fresh raspberries and it is almost entirely gone today! I’m so glad I found your site. Thanks for the great recipes!
Thank you, Lorri! So happy to hear that everything turned out great for you!
I’m super excited to make this frosting- thank you for sharing your recipe!! Quick question regarding the cocoa powder and sifting- do I sift it first and then weigh it? Or weigh it, and then sift it in the mixing bowl? Any tips are appreciated! Thank you bunches!!
Hi, Stephanie! Either way would be fine, since you’re weighing it out. It may be easier to weigh it, then sift it into the bowl.
Thank you, Danielle! I also appreciate your quick reply 🙂 I’m making this today- and next on the list is your ganache- it all looks divine!!! Thanks again!
This frosting is SO GOOD! Your instructions were super easy to follow and this is by far the best chocolate frosting ever! I also followed your piping instructions and my cupcakes were a huge hit. I had to stop myself from eating the frosting straight from the bowl! So light, smooth, pipes beautifully- and the taste is perfect. Thank you!!
So glad you enjoyed the frosting, Stephanie!